LNG-Fuelled Arctic Research Icebreaker

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Japan is targeting to launch a LNG-fuelled, arctic research icebreaker in 2026, aiming for better access to study the area’s climate and environment, as well as its vast natural resources, reports argusmedia.

Icebreaking Capability

The country’s education, science and technology ministry has decided to start the construction of a ¥34bn ($310mn) arctic research icebreaker during the April 2021-March 2022 fiscal year. The 13,000 gross tonne (gt), 128m vessel is planned to be equipped with a dual-fuel engine that can run on LNG and fuel oil and have icebreaking capability that can navigate through 1.2m thick ice.

This will be Japan’s first arctic research icebreaker. Jamstec, the marine science agency under the ministry, has been carrying out arctic research using the 8,700gt research ship Mirai, which runs on a diesel engine and can only enter the area in summer months without ice-breaking capacity.

Antarctic Research Shirase

Japan has the Antarctic research icebreaker Shirase, which was built by Japanese shipbuilder Japan Marine United for ¥38bn and launched in 2009. The 12,500 gt, 138m vessel is operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force.

Jamstec is tentatively planning to issue a tender later this month for the construction of the new arctic research icebreaker. Bids are expected to be submitted by mid-July before the winner is determined in August.

First Arctic Development Policy

The Japanese government in 2015 drew up its first arctic development policy, joining the international race to establish a new shipping route and get access to the area’s natural resources. Tokyo has backed private-sector investment in the region, such as Russian firm Novatek’s planned 19.8mn t/yr Arctic LNG 2 project.

Tokyo is planning to continue hunting for additional upstream gas assets, with LNG expected to be in demand as a transition fuel and as a feedstock for production of ammonia and hydrogen in the run-up to achieve its 2050 decarbonisation goal.

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Source: argusmedia

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